Tuesday, February 16, 2010

E noho ra New Zealand, G'day Australia!

Sadly, the first leg of our adventure came to an end last week as we said farewell to New Zealand and headed west to Australia.  3 weeks in NZ is not nearly enough time.  Although we covered a lot of ground and explored both the north and south islands we still weren't able to do it all.  Based on our experience and after comparing notes with other travelers we met on the road we've decided that 5 weeks is the minimum amount of time one needs to do NZ justice, so we'll be keeping that in mind for our next visit as we've already decided we have to go back!

As sad as we were to leave New Zealand, we were very excited about our next stop, Australia.  The luxurious flight we took to get there also softened the blow.  We had the pleasure of flying with Emirates Airlines on the new Airbus A380 which is a double-decker airplane.  Yes, that's right, a full double-decker airplane.  This thing was a behemoth.  It's baffling how something that big can actually move more than 10 miles an hour let alone get off the ground.

Regardless, we agreed that this was probably the best flight either of us have ever been on.  Huge seats, tons of legroom (we scored one of the seats with no seats in front of us so we could stretch our legs), our own generously proportioned flatscreens with about 100 movies and TV shows to choose from, and the best meal we've eaten since we left home.  Granted we've basically been surviving on pasta and rice for the last 3 weeks but this meal had a lamb appetizer!  Not to mention the wine and cheese.  Courtney even tried to sneak the roll and cheese off of the plane to eat later on but the Australian Quarantine forms we had to fill out sufficiently scared her into leaving them behind.  Suffice it to say, based on this experience, we would definitely recommend Emirates for anyone flying to Australia or any of their other destinations.

We arrived in Sydney at around 8:30pm and headed into the city to our hostel, Harbour City. Sounded pretty fancy on the internet, anything with "Harbour" in the name has to be decent, right?  Apparently not.  It wasn't even anywhere near a harbour for starters.  A more appropriate name would be "Harbour S______" (rhymes with city).  Still, it was cheap and gave us a place to crash for the night.

Our plan for Australia is to rent some wheels and travel up the east coast with our travel buds Kate and Lizzie, the 2 English girls we met in New Zealand  They have a similar itinerary to us so we thought it would be fun to explore Oz together (and save all of us a few bucks in the process!)  They stayed in NZ a few more days than us so we decided to hang out in Sydney for a few days until they arrived.  We've been moving around a lot so far on the trip so we welcomed the chance to stay in n place for more than just a day or two.

On our first day in Sydney we took a walk through the Botanic Gardens which are beautiful and also offer great views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.  They're also home to thousands of fruit bats.  It was pretty cool to see all of these huge bats hanging from trees and flying around in the middle of the day.  We stopped at the Opera House for the mandatory Opera House and Harbour Bridge pics before heading to the infamous Kings Cross section of the City to find a place to stay for the night. 

Like it namesake in London, Kings Cross is a bit of a mixed bag with trendy cafes and restaurants alongside strip clubs and seedy bars.  It also happens to be Sydney's main backpacker area with tons of cheap hostels to choose from so we thought it made sense to try and find a place there.  We found a little place called "The Pinkhouse."  Located in a old Victorian building tucked away from the main road in a quiet part of the neighborhood it seemed like a good spot to spend a few days relaxing while we explored Sydney.  We were WAY off.  This place was a dump.  It made Harbour Sh*tty look like a 5 Star hotel!  It was the hottest, dirtiest place we've ever seen.  And the icing on the cake was when we found at that 2 of the guests currently staying there were the lucky recipients of some pink eye.  Maybe that's how this place got it's name?  Urgh.

After that we promptly got ourselves over to Wake Up!, a trendy hostel right across from Sydney Central Station.  A few dollars more than the other places but well worth the money.  Clean, spacious, air conditioned and, most importantly, free from nasty eye infections.

Spent way too much time describing crappy hostels here so running out of time for full updates on all our activities but some highlights include a day trip to the Blue Mountains, very cool, and a visit to the Sydney Wildlife World where we got to see Koalas, Kangaroos, and a massive Crocodile called Rex.  We also enjoyed a few days on the beach out in famous Bondi Beach and got to hang out with Courtney's friend Kemi who has been living in Bondi since September (lucky girl) and took us to a great beach next to Bondi called Tamarama.  Thanks Kemi!

That pretty much brings us up to speed.  We pick up our car tomorrow morning and are hitting the road, first stop Coff's Harbour.

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